"People from every nation, tribe, people and language" -- Revelation 7:9
As university president, Loren Gresham dreamed that significant numbers of SNU graduates would offer themselves for a year of volunteer missionary service.
After his junior year in college, twenty-one-year-old William Cameron Townsend took a leave of absence from his academic life to spend a year selling Bibles and Scripture portions as an evangelistic outreach in Central America. That was in 1917. That one year became two which ultimately became a lifetime as Townsend went on to found Wycliffe Bible Translators. What does that mean for you? Well, a year or two of service overseas won't necessarily turn you into a career missionary. It may, however, foster a global perspective in you.
All our volunteers who have had loans have gotten payment deferred for their year overseas.
Districts have been counting the year of Mission Corps service toward ordination requirements. So, you are not losing any time at all.
Nazarene Theological Seminary has worked out "field experience credit" for volunteers so they actually begin their seminary experience by going to the mission field. That's called their 365m program.
Friends, family, and home church people love investing in young people willing to sacrifice a year of their lives. This is not about fundraising. It's about creating a network of prayer supporters who help pray in the resources.
The Nazarene mission board has opportunities in countries worldwide. The countries which have benefited from SNU graduates who have gone for a year or more as Mission Corps volunteers include two Creative Access areas as well as countries like Bulgaria, Croatia, Italy, Japan, and Macedonia.
While in India on his way to Japan, new missionary Francis Xavier wrote back to his fellow students: "Give up your small ambitions."
Giving up one's "small" ambitions and getting in tune with God's heart for the world is usually what happens when one embraces SNU's missions ethos. Sometimes, people are tempted to think that missions activity at SNU is a great -- but very much optional -- dessert. It's not; missions involvement is part of SNU's main course. It's such a crucial part of what we do that the school has talked of finding a way to make significant cross-cultural experience a graduation requirement.
A few semesters ago I was trying to talk an SNU student into going on "Commission Unto Mexico." The more I pushed and cajoled, the more he backed away. Finally, in exasperation, he said to me, "Missions is your thing; it's just not mine."
He was wrong, of course. Missions isn't "my" thing; it's God's thing. As Henry Martyn, a missionary to China, often said, "The nearer we get to Christ, the more intensely missionary we must become."
SNU students have a variety of ways to get involved. Fall is recruitment time for summer ministry experiences. There are often over-the-New-Year's holiday opportunities.
As new students arrive at SNU, I hope it quickly becomes clear to them that missions involvement is not something expected only of the super-zealous or of the extraordinarily talented. In early July, Jessica Bohn e-mailed me from her summer Youth in Mission assignment in the Caribbean: "I don't have much to offer, but God is taking my willingness and moving mightily."
Don't be one of those who get an SNU diploma and move into a career, graduate school or family life without ever participating in one of our missions thrusts. Don't graduate from here without a photo album full of delightful pictures of little children whose language you do not know all crowded around you making faces at the camera. Don't be content to graduate from here, having merely talked about the church's responsibility for the poor and alienated. Get involved in doing something. Craig Shepperd, who graduated from Southern Nazarene University and then gave a year of volunteer service to Croatia, recently wrote to university leaders: "Don't lose the [missions] focus."
SNU offers a variety of opportunities for you to "give up your small ambitions." I hope you'll take advantage of them.
-- Howard Culbertson,
"During the night, Paul had a vision of a man of Macedonia standing and begging him, 'Come over to Macedonia and help us.'" -- Acts 16:9